Robert L. Day Collection: Anatomy of an Archival Project – Part 1

Robert L. Day

Robert Day as a student, in a UCSF School of Pharmacy lab, 1957. Robert L. Day Collection, MSS 2011-23.

We were fortunate this past spring to benefit from the generosity of Dr. Robert Day and the expertise of the Library’s Archives and Special Collections. Dr. Day retired in 2012 from the UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty after an accomplished 50+-year academic career at UCSF. He retired as well from his unofficial position as the School’s historian. He was a magnet for all things old and wonderful related to the School and pharmacy in general.  His office was a floor-to-ceiling treasure trove, the precious contents of which he generously donated to UCSF upon his retirement. The new Robert L. Day Collection is complete with the 1906-1910 School of Pharmacy faculty meeting minutes; glorious show globes, the predecessors of which were used originally to mark the physical location of a pharmacy; a 1930 prescription for one pint of whiskey (undiluted); photos of our bell-bottomed and side-burned faculty members in the 60’s; and priceless detailed documents showing the transformation here at UCSF of pharmacy into a clinical profession.  Coming soon is Dr. Day’s oral history, a must read. Just as impressive as the items in the collection was the skilled and focused work of the archive professionals in the Library. Under the direction of UCSF Archivist Polina Ilieva, the boxes and boxes of precious items from Dr. Day’s office were collected, preserved, digitized, and catalogued into a findable resource that is now accessible worldwide. I encourage anyone who might have archival documents or special collections of health- or science-related items to contact the Library. In the meantime, enjoy the Robert L. Day Collection.

Susan Levings, MS
Associate Dean, Planning and Communications
UCSF School of Pharmacy

Robert L. Day Collection: Anatomy of an Archival Project – Introduction

California College Of Pharmacy

Group of pharmacy students from the class of 1889 posing in front of California College of Pharmacy building at 113 Fulton Street, San Francisco. Otto A. Weihe (later Instructor of Materia Medica at the College) is standing 2nd from left. Robert L. Day Collection, MSS 2011-23.

In April of 2013 the UCSF Archives unveiled recently acquired Robert L. Day collection documenting the history of the School of Pharmacy. This project included not only arrangement and processing of the collection, but also preservation and restoration of damaged oversized photographs, digitization, design and creation of a companion digital portal, physical and online exhibits, oral history and organization of events to showcase the history of the School. It was successfully accomplished as a result of the close cooperation between the School’s leadership and the Library. With the approval and continuing personal involvement of the dean, B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD., the School of Pharmacy provided generous support and funded the hiring of a part-time processing archivist for a period of six months, digitization of brittle scrapbooks and photographs, work of a photo conservator, and an oral historian.

In the next couple of weeks we will bring to your attention entries written by the participants of this project…

We’re on Zazzle!

We wanted to announce to all of you that a selection of our beloved treasures, here in the Archives & Special Collections, is featured in the UCSF Zazzle store. The online store allows you to purchase customizable note cards, tote bags, mugs, iPhone cases, water bottles and t-shirts that feature one-of-a-kind images from our collection.

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Recently, we’ve added items that showcase pieces in the “Pharmacy and Pharmacists” exhibition of Japanese Woodblock Prints– currently on display in the  UCSF Library.


The online store also includes items with images from past exhibitions of the Japanese Woodblock Prints Collection. These represent a cross-section of the collection, featuring colorful ukiyo-e scenes on topics such as women’s health, diet and nutrition, spirituality, views of foreigners, and traditional Chinese healing methods.


designall (3)designall (4)Items with historical UCSF photographs from the Photograph Collection are also available. Check out the fascinating views of campus from the turn of the twentieth century.


Preserving History of HIV/AIDS Epidemic

The UCSF Archives & Special Collections was the pioneering repository that collected materials documenting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The UCSF AIDS History Project (AHP) began in 1987 as a joint effort of historians, archivists, AIDS activists, health care providers and others to secure historically significant resources of the response to the AIDS crisis in the city of San Francisco.

Starting in 1991 the Archives received several grants from National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to fund the survey, acquisition, arrangement, and description of carefully selected records from numerous AIDS-related agencies and organizations in San Francisco.

San Franciscans, especially LGBT community, quickly began responding to the mysterious health care crisis as soon as its scope and mortality rate became evident. Working long hours on a voluntary basis, activists began to create community-based organizations (CBOs) to deal with needs of the growing number of sick and dying, respond to the fear and grief of friends and loved ones, and serve as centers for compiling and disseminating information. Over time a very effective collaboration of city and state agencies, hospitals, health care providers, political activists, and CBOs evolved and became tagged as “the San Francisco model” of AIDS care. An extensive array of services developed to help people from various communities affected by HIV. One of the primary objectives of the AHP was to capture this complex evolution and to also provide instruction in records management practices to the CBOs. With the help of NHPRC, the Archives continued acquiring and processing new collections.

The last NHPRC grant in 2004-2006 funded the AIDS Epidemic Historical Records Project, a collaboration of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society (GLBTHS) and UCSF Archives & Special Collections, and permitted to complete the processing of 18 existing collections. In addition, UCSF acquired records from the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, and the UCSF AIDS Health Project. GLBTHS acquired records of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Shanti Project.

AHP continues to grow and earlier this year Prof. Nancy Stoller donated materials that were added to her papers containing research files for the book Lessons from the Damned: Queers, Whores and Junkies Respond to AIDS. AHP collections remain the most heavily used among our manuscript holdings. Read more about the AHP and view the list of collections on the Archives website.

Cover of Newsweek magazine, August 8, 1983.

Cover of Newsweek magazine, August 8, 1983. Bobbi Campbell (on the left) identified as a person “who has the disease” and his boyfriend appeared on the cover of Newsweek for an article about AIDS’ impact on gay men (although the magazine described his partner Bobby Hilliard as his ‘friend’). Bobbi Campbell Diary, MSS 96-33, folder 1. UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, Archives and Special Collections, University of California, San Francisco.

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Update & Alumna Spotlight: Medical Sciences Library Photograph

We were thrilled to find out that a UCSF alumna spotted herself in one of the photographs of the old Medical Sciences library! New library Med Sci

Sally Alpers Arney is shown sitting at the table, third from the left, looking, I think we can all agree, extremely studious. At the time the photograph was taken, 1958, Sally was in her first year of the UCSF nursing program. She left the nursing school after that year and later graduated from the UCSF physical therapy program in 1961.

Sally Alpers, Medi-Cal, 1961

Sally Alpers, Medi-Cal yearbook, 1961

Sally was kind enough to share a few memories about UCSF, student life pre-women’s movement, and what she’s been up to for the last 50 years or so. Read on..

“My favorite memories were of having dinner with my classmates and the medical students in the cafeteria.  Most, if not all, of the medical students were guys, all of the nursing classmates were “girls”.  It was the olden days in the Fifties.

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